In Italy, some types of pizza are only reserved for special occasions and select Holidays. You’ll be hard pressed to find them at any other time unless you attempt to make them on your own. Sfincione di San Giovanni pizza is a great example only traditionally served on Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, Good Friday and on the feast of San Giovanni.
Light and topped with bread crumbs, the Sfincione di San Giovanni, a Sicilian-style pizza, literally translates to “thick sponge” featuring a soft, tender dough and a flavorful sauce. If you’re up for the challenge, follow World Champion Pizza Chef Bruno DiFabio‘s recipe below. But be forewarned, preparation involves much more than stretching a ball of dough onto your pizza stone & popping it in the oven:
- 1 pound of High Gluten Flour
- 1 1/2 cups of tap water
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 2 tablespoons of condensed milk
- 1 packet of dry active yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
- 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
How to Make the Dough:
- Combine tap water and yeast giving a little stir, then setting aside for five minutes.
- Stir once again to make sure the mixture is not clumpy.
- Add flour and mix for five minutes on speed one.
- Create a well in the dough and add the salt. Mix for two minutes on speed one.
- Create a well in the dough and add the condensed milk. Mix for two minutes on speed one.
- Create a well in the dough and add the extra virgin olive oil. Mix for two minutes on speed one or until it resembles a complete dough ball.
- Set the dough in a lightly oiled plastic container with a top. Refrigerate this dough ball for 48 hours.
- After this “cold rise fermentation period” allow dough ball to come to room temperature before slacking out the dough.
Sfincione Sauce Ingredients:
- 3 medium yellow onion, coarsley chopped
- 1 teaspoon of capers
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup red table wine
- 3 cups water
- salt & pepper
How to Make the Sauce:
- Heat a large sauce pan on stove top.
- Add two tablespoons olive oil. Allow to shimmer.
- Add onions, and capers. Sautee on high heat for ten minutes.
- Add red wine and cook on medium high heat until almost all liquid is gone.
- Add tomato paste. Continually stirring on medium high heat for additional two to three minutes.
- Add 3 cups of water and reduce down until mixture is very thick.
- Transfer to food processor and pulse until it is sauce like.
Bread Crumb Topping Ingredients:
- 2 cups coarse plain bread crumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of paprika
- 1 tablespoon of chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1/4 teaspoon of cracked pepper
- 1 teaspoon of minced fresh garlic
- 2 tablespoons of grated parmigiano reggiano
- 1 tablespoon of fresh oregano
- 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) of extra virgin olive oil
How to Make the Bread Crumb Topping:
- In a 350 degree oven, toast bread crumbs for eight to ten minutes.
- In a large bowl combine all of the ingredients and mix well.
Classic Palermitana Sfincione di San Giovanni Pizza Ingredients:
- 20 oil cured sicilian olives (pitted)
- 10 anchovy fillets (canned in oil or freshly gutted and marinated for 24 hours in salt and extra virgin olive oil)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3/4 pound Caccio Cavallo cheese
- Sfincione Sauce
- Bread Crumb Topping
Note: you will need a “teglia” pan (usually 12 by 18 inches) or two 10″ rounds
How to Make the Pizza!:
- Take dough out of the fridge and let stand at room temperature for two hours or until it has reached ambient temperature.
- Generously grease the “teglia” pan with the extra virgin olive oil.
- Work the dough on the counter surface using only extra virgin olive oil. Do NOT use flour. Slack out the dough until it is a little bit bigger then the pan you are using. Then place inside the pan, gently pulling the dough into the corners.
- Add a little bit more extra virgin olive oil to the top and gently coat the entire top of the dough using your fingers.
- Cover “teglia” pan with plastic wrap, and let sit in the room temp oven for 2 hours.
- Take off the plastic wrap
- Break the anchovies in half or thirds and gently press them into the dough. Dispersing all of them evenly.
- In a 450 degree oven, cook the Sfincione until it has just started to turn color and take out.
- Distribute the Cacio Cavallo cheese evenly.
- Using a spoon, evenly disperse the desired amount of Sfincione Sauce.
- Break the oil cured sicilian olives in half and evenly distribute them on top of the Sfincione Sauce.
- Evenly distribute the Bread Crumb Topping on top of the Sfincione Sauce.
- Return to the oven and allow to cook until the crust is a deep golden brown.
Photo courtesy of Stuntman PR